The portions of the priests and Levites (18:1-8) – It was the Lord who chose the tribe of Levi to be the priestly tribe (18:1,5). They would not receive a land inheritance in Canaan as the other tribes did. Instead, the Lord was their inheritance (18:2). Portions of the sacrificed animals went to the priests, as did the firstfruits from the Israelites’ harvest (18:3,4). Those were to serve as “wages” for the Levites and priests.

Witchcraft, sorcery, and related activities – God’s desire for Israel was crystal clear: “. . . you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations” (18:9). Other nations would practice many things, but having a large number of people to participate in them did not make them right in God’s sight. In fact, the Lord told Israel about the abominable practices of the Gentile world, “. . . but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you” (18:14). God wanted the line of distinction between His people and others to be maintained at all times.

In this context, what are those “abomination” matters that the Lord named? Passing kids through the fire (as done by idol-worshippers), witchcraft, soothsaying, sorcery, conjuring “spells,” and similar activities (18:10,11). Practicers of these were to be put to death (Leviticus 20:27). Such satanic exercises were “outlawed” by God. He alone is the Lord of heaven and earth, and to Him alone must all humans turn for guidance and spiritual instruction.

A Prophet like Moses –God told Moses, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him” (18:18). The message of Deuteronomy 18:15,18 is a Messianic prophecy. Jesus declared that Moses wrote about Him (John 5:46). This is one of those instances. Discerning Jews confessed this about Jesus: “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 6:14).

Like Moses, Jesus was sent by God, did great miracles, is a Deliverer, is the mediator of a covenant, and has a law named after Him. How much authority would the Prophet possess? People were to hear and submit to Him in all things (18:15,18). Those who refused to do so would be punished (18:19; Acts 3:23).

False vs. true prophets of God – The Israelites were to be on guard against false prophets among them. If one claimed to speak words from God but God had not commanded him, if one spoke in the name of other gods, or if one’s prediction purportedly was from the Lord but did not come to pass – such messages were not from the Lord. Israel was neither to fear nor tolerate such false messengers (18:20-22).

— Roger D. Campbell